A shadowy figure leans over a computer screen in a secret den
somewhere in Somerville. He glances at the clock. It's eighteen
hundred hours, fifty minutes on a wet and dismal Friday evening.
"Shadowfly, report. Where are you?"
"I'm on StarHustler sir".
"I know that. I welded you on there myself last night. Where is
StarHustler? Why aren't you with the flask? What's going on?"
"I don't know sir, it's confusing. There are a lot of little girls
"Little girls? Shadowfly, are you on the train yet?"
"Can you see the others?"
"Swiveling head. Negative sir. We're moving again. Fast. I think
we ran over some feet sir, it's pretty bumpy. There, a gate, track 6.
I see Trondholm sir. It's upside-down. No, now it's sideways, now
it looks like Pywaket and Grimlocke are trying to fold it in half.
There's a big guy in uniform shouting, "You'll never get that thing on
this train." Sir, he's insulting one of the fleet, should I use my
"Negative, Shadowfly. Keep reporting."
"Aw. I really should test it sir."
"Not now, report, where are the rest of my pilots?"
"Er…hang on a minute Admiral, I'm getting bounced. Ah, that's better.
We're in. I can see them now, there's Rubbish and Retard, Grimlocke,
Masokist, Pywaket, Ehawk, Threespeed and MsMoon."
"Negative. Ah, Admiral, you're not going to like this."
"Sir, they've compromised the mission, they've just told two
passengers the plan. Should I use the laser now?"
"No, hmm, why would they tell the plan to civvies?"
"They're not very bright? If I were in charge of this mission…
Nobody would be telling somebody called MamaRash and DiaperRash our
secrets. Laser time?"
"No. It's OK, MamaRash and DiaperRash are SCUL. No zapping. And no,
you can't be in charge, you're a spybot, not a pilot."
"Damn". Sulkily. "Admiral Squnq, why aren't you leading this
mission, they're going to make a mess of it without you. They'll
probably get lost and you'll have to send out search parties to bring
back their frozen corpses."
"I have to attend to... affairs of State."
"Humph, state of the apartment I bet, your room's a mess."
"Did I put obnoxious circuits and whining modules in your program
"You were sleeping part of the time you worked on me. So can I order
them to scrub the mission sir?"
"Negative. I've got a fix on you now, you're with the flask… and the
SRD is working great."
"Secret radar device. It's in the flask. You can go to sleep now."
"Are you whining again? Because if you are, I can fix it with a
"No whining here. I only thought this bunch need watching. They've
already lost one and they haven't even launched yet."
"They'll be fine. They're heroes in training."
"They're being silly and indiscreet all over the place now sir.
They're going to make SCUL look bad."
"SCUL is bad. They've got some experienced pilots." Yawning. "So
what if they do silly stuff on trains. They bounce. They're kind of
like kittens..." snore. "Wake me up for the launch." More snoring.
"Shadowfly. Your super miniature hidden intelligence robot with
sleek, retractable head."
"Oh yeah. What?"
"You're not going to like this, Admiral. The 'kittens' are drinking a
lot of beer."
"It's twenty-two hundred hours thirty minutes. Hey, why haven't they
"Hapto. They're waiting for her. She missed the train. There's been
another disaster. I'm sorry to tell you they won't have any yummy or
healthy supplies. While the 'heroes in training' were cavorting in a
tavern, the grocery store closed. Oh, here they come. They're
showing off now. Hey! Some nonSCUL guy wants to try riding
Schadenfreude. Hah, that showed him It dumped him in the dirt.
Hapto's here now. They all keep going to the bathroom; I don't think
they're ever going to start. Oh, badbadbad,:
"Retard found a liquor store. They're passing around a big bottle
that's making them choke and wobble. What is that stench?!"
"You can smell?"
"Rotten eggs? Moldy radishes? Mushy peas?" a pause. "It's right
over my head. Gah! It's a lamp. A really smelly lamp. Can I use
"No. That's Threespeed's carbide lamp. It's cool."
Indecipherable mumbling. Then: "Well that's got to be a record.
They haven't gone fifty feet and there's already a mechanical."
"What happened? Is everybody OK?"
"Oh. Yes. It was only the boom box. The ipod fell out. They jammed
it back in. I think they put a sock over it or something. They're
not doing things properly. And that MsMoon! She couldn't even get a
bottle holder on the handlebars without directions."
"Who's navigating, who's tailgunner?"
"Original navigator and Route Planner was Ehawk, but Grimlocke's
navigating now, on the back of Trondholm, with Pywaket in front.
She's probably going to get them all killed. Admiral, she's blogging
on a phone. Actually, I bet she's shopping online. Is that legal? I
should start a blog, I'd be brilliant..."
"Isn't that what blogging is all about?"
"You're not a blog, you're a spybot. Do your job shadowfly."
"I still think I should be in charge..."
"Shadowfly, have you got 2001: Space Odyssey in your
memory chip? Does the name HAL mean anything to you?"
"I'll be good." Throat clearing noise. "Shadowfly, expert supercool
spybot continuing report as ordered Admiral. Threespeed and MsMoon
are tail gunning on StarHustler. Hapto is on Basquiat. Masokist has
VPL Toxic Shock. Nice name. Retard is on BEE OneNightStand. Ehawk
has Schadenfreude. Sir, are you aware that Rubbish has brought an
unnamed ship on this mission?"
"She tested it. It looks good. Is it raining out there?"
"Not anymore. But you should hear them whining about the cold.
Music's ok, but you know I have this idea about having three boom
boxes playing Riders on the Storm, The Ride of the Valkyries and
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, all at the same time, really loud…"
"Shadowfly, that is a twisted idea. Maybe next mission."
"Haverhill, Newburyport, Ipswich. They're in Gloucester now sir.
They're making a lot of noise. They like the stars. Threespeed keeps
having chemicals. That stinky lamp is going to explode any minute!
Oh-oh. Sir, you're not going to like this."
"They've abandoned the flight chart, Admiral. They're off the map."
"Bathroom? What's wrong with the woods?"
"Well, where are they going?"
"They're looking for the police. Humph...they keep blasting around, the
police will be looking for them. They think the police will share their
"Still Grimlocke. But they've broken ranks sir. They're totally out
of order. It's a disgrace. The tail gunner is in the middle now.
And the navigator keeps falling asleep Trondholm is too comfortable.
Someone ought to put in a few spikes. Ah, they found it. They're
cheering and flushing and playing with the furniture now. And they're
off again. Looks like they've decided to climb every hill in
"Masokist is racing for the train."
"Is she OK?"
"She's had enough. First sensible thing any of them have done tonight."
"They're doing doughnuts now, in a parking lot on the coast. Sun's
coming up sir. It's doing it way too slow. They're all staring at it
like it's such a big deal. And they're off again. The boom box died.
Rockport. They're out of food. Beverley. Hapto wants Pancakes.
She is stopping people in the street.
"Pancakes? Where can we get pancakes?" Sir, they look kind of
demented. Is it time to rescue them yet?"
"Naa. They'll figure it out."
"There it is. Marika's. They're in. Can I take a nap, this could
"Admiral. Are you awake?"
"Where are they?"
"They don't know. They rode through Lynn and Revere. Rubbish and
Grimlocke went swimming. They're fried and sore and sweaty. Now
"How do you mean lost? They've got a map and they're almost home."
"The map sucks sir. And a road they needed is gone. Eeeeeeeek! A
jerk in a blue car just tried to run them off the road! Can I use the
laser now Admiral?"
"Go for it. Protect the fleet, Shadowfly. Take him out."
"I got him sir. Wow! He's gone. Completely gone. Not even a
roly-poly hubcap. How did we do that?"
"Top secret displacement ray. He's gone far far away."
"Where did we send him?"
"Nobody messes with SCUL. Is that being lost problem solved yet?"
"Er... Hapto and Grimlocke attacked a really squalid 7/11 in
Wonderland. They're interrogating some of the locals. Now they're
looking for a beacon, a brown house. There it is, here's the turn.
They want ice cream sir, but they're too tired to go get it. They're
making an emergency landing in Rubbish & Masokist's backyard. They're
hosed down and drinking some disgusting pink stuff. They're safe now
Admiral. Now can I reveal my presence and my true identity?"
"Aw c'mon, please!"
"Can't do it Shadowfly. I have to build you first, and transport you
back in time."
|Leotard||One Night Stand||1317.23||Rear Admiral, Lower Half|
|Masokist||Toxic Shock||1257.63||Rear Admiral, Lower Half|
|MsMoon||Star Hustler (Bombardier)||662.428||Ensign|
|Threespeed||Star Hustler||861.514||Vice Admiral|